Homelessness & debt

Homelessness is a growing problem in the UK, and it can, and does, have devastating effects.

On average, homeless people die at just 47 years old. Homeless people are also over nine times more likely to take their own life than the general population.

There are different types of homelessness. For example, rough sleeping, in temporary accommodation, and hidden homelessness (e.g. staying with friends/family).

There are also many reasons why someone may become homeless. The causes of homelessness are wide-ranging, and it is often a combination of reasons, as opposed to one single root cause. Causes can include things like job loss, mental and/or physical illness, poverty, lack of affordable housing, and abuse.

Sadly, being homeless can, in turn, make many some problems even harder to resolve.

The statistics

In 2018, approximately 320,000 people were recorded as homeless in Britain.

It is a rise of 13,000, or 4%, on last year’s figures and equivalent to 36 new people becoming homeless every day.

Debt and homelessness

Debt is a growing problem, and it can get worse for an individual over time if it is not dealt with.

The worst case scenarios of debt include losing your home or feeling like you want to end your life. But there is help available out there for you that can help you to manage your debts.

If you are in housing debt, the stress can feel overwhelming and can make people feel completely consumed with worry. Many people report feeling stressed and not at ease until they felt ‘safe’ from the threat of eviction from being in arrears.

People often deal with their housing debt in addition to other debts and other problems in their lives, either related or unrelated to the debt. It can feel extremely tough, but there is help out there for you.

Further help

You may feel like you are completely alone if you are facing debt, but you are not. The following organisations provide housing and homelessness support:

How to stop debt collectors harassing you for 30 days

In October, the UK Government agreed with campaigners that the wording used in letters chasing people for debts must be changed to be less threatening language to avoid causing distress to those in crisis. It also agreed that bold lettering would be reduced, legal terms would be simplified into more straightforward language and people would be steered towards debt compliant and transparent support services.

Research by the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute discovered threatening letters can have a catastrophic impact on people with debt problems leading to poor mental health and even loss of life caused by suicide.

The Money and mental health policy institute advise that if you find yourself in debt crisis the first place to seek help is from a charity or non-profit debt counselling organisation – only have a one-to-one session with someone paid to help you, not to make money out of you and ensure that if you speak to any organisation looking to help you reduce debt that they provide you will full transparency of fees.

The agreement between the UK Government and Credit Services Association, the body that represents debt collecting agents, gives new powers that guarantee debt collectors won’t contact you for at least 30 days, provided you’ve sought debt help or can show you are trying to repay your debts. The debt counselling service will inform collectors, which will then give you a month’s breathing space to get yourself on a better footing.”

Full post 

Talk Money Week 2020 – Tips & advice

Financial worries and money are often seen as taboo topics, but this week is ‘Talk Money Week‘, which is aiming to help to break the stigma. Talk Money Week is organised by the Money & Pensions Service, and runs this year from 9th to 13th November.

Despite its prevalence in our lives and the stress it causes for many, most people find money extremely difficult to speak about.

The Money & Pensions Service has a range of online guides with tips on talking about money with different people.

Their tips include:

  • Avoiding blaming people that you are talking to
  • Talking about long-term goals and short term goals
  • Talking about others who have been through similar experiences as a conversation starter

We also recommend:

  • Talking about money at a suitable place when you have enough time
  • Making a plan of what you want to discuss
  • Trying to keep your cool during the conversation

Why should we talk about money?

Talking about money and normalising conversations about it can ease your worries and help you to have a good relationship with money.

Research has found that people who do discuss money:

  • make better and less risky financial decisions
  • have stronger personal relationships
  • help their children form good lifetime money habits
  • feel less stressed or anxious
  • feel more in control

Not only does talking about money have positive effects, as described above, but not talking about money can have negative effects too.

Not being open about money with those close to you can also cause them stress and hurt. For example, if you and your partner have both of your names are on bills, or any joint accounts, your financial situation could impact their financial future (and vice-versa!). It is important to know where you stand if you want to look after your finances during a relationship as well as when coming out of a relationship. The only way to do this is to start being open with your partner.

Not talking about money with other family members can also cause problems. With older people, if you haven’t talked about their financial future, issues can crop up in regards to things like retirement and care. You may not know what their wishes actually are, or how they would like you to manage the situation.


To find support for money worries, visit our support directory.

Coronavirus & Mental Health

Due to coronavirus, millions of people around the world are, understandably, reporting high levels of worry and stress. There are many things going on that could cause us to feel distressed and anxious such as bereavement, job insecurity, financial concerns, stressful home lives, and general life uncertainty.

The Mental Health Effects 

One thing that will undoubtedly affect us all is the ever-changing messages of regional lockdown, social distancing, the wearing of masks and the recent news of family gatherings being restricted to 6 people, leaving many people with low mood and anxiety. 

People are naturally hardwired to be sociable beings, and these latest rules may pose challenges to the mental health of many. Being around our loved ones is inherently enjoyable, can allow us to take our mind away from stress, and is generally good for our sense of wellbeing.

Isolation and loneliness have repeatedly been shown to be detrimental to physical and mental health. Feelings of loneliness may also currently be exacerbated for people who live alone, have challenging home lives, or lack the technology that allows for online catch-ups.

The Current Importance Of Mental Health

The extent to which coronavirus has impacted, and will impact, on mental health is not yet fully apparent. It may take many months, or even years, for the true effects to be discovered.

It is vital for us all to monitor how we are feeling and take the right steps to look after ourselves. Ultimately, we must all recognise the potential impact that coronavirus may have on our mental health and take steps to protect our wellbeing. Mental health is something that can affect us all, and we should take it seriously at the moment. If you are feeling distressed, talk to someone about it.”

If you need emotional support, you can contact The Samaritans at any time by calling 116 123.

Redundancy – Staying Positive

Few things can have a greater impact on our wellbeing than financial & employment security.

The effects of losing either of these can reverberate across your entire life ­from the workplace to your home life and well into your future.

Redundancy always deals a heavy blow. Coping with the financial difficulties of losing your job is often the most pressing concern, but finding yourself out of work can also affect your mental health and relationships.

It is for this reason that redundancy is so gravely feared by almost all employees across every industry: in one go, you can lose your job and all your financial security.

A redundancy ranks among the most stressful experiences you can have in life, with many British workers even rating redundancy as a more stressful life event that marriage breakdown and divorce.

Difficult life circumstances, such as debt and unemployment, can have a huge impact on our mental health. If your feelings are impacting your day-to-day life, then try opening up and talking to someone you trust about how you are feeling.

But redundancy does not mean the end of your career. While it will always have a huge impact, there are ways to approach a redundancy that will lessen the stress involved and help you recover quicker.


Reasons for it?

Companies usually announce redundancies as a cost-cutting exercise. The cause of cutting costs is likely to be one of the following:

  • Automation: As the progression of technology moves ever faster, more & more employees are finding themselves replaced by machines and software.
  • Outsourcing: The global nature of the world economy means that many employers prefer to cut costs by sending jobs overseas to countries with cheaper labour or outsource the job to online freelancers.
  • The economy: Economic forces are the most powerful and often unpredictable factor affecting a country’s workforce. As economic growth turns negative, it is usually jobs that are affected first, leading to a chain reaction of redundancies across, any industries.
  • Senior-level mismanagement: Sometimes, no matter how healthy a business model or economy is, a company can fail purely due to mismanagement, or corruption. This is the most difficult reason to accept redundancy, as it is usually completely avoidable.

The most important thing to remember is that none of these is based on an individual’s personality or performance, but on matters out of your control.

Redundancies should never taken as a personal judgment, rejection, or punishment by your employer. This doesn’t make facing a redundancy any easier, but it will help as you look to your future and work to recover from the shock.


Know your rights

As an employee, you are protected by certain rights and it is up to your employer to respect these at all times. This is no different when you are being dismissed from your role through redundancy.

If you are facing an impending redundancy, it is important you understand what rights you have and the procedures your employer is expected to follow:

  • A minimum notice period or payment in lieu of notice
  • Consultation meetings between employer and employees
  • Redundancy pay package (depending on the length of service)
  • Time off for job hunting
  • Insurance of fair dismissal
  • Alternative employment (if possible)

While every case of redundancy is different ­ depending on the individual employees and the organisation issuing the redundancies ­ all employers are expected to follow these basic obligations.


Prepare in advance

Whether redundancy is sudden or has been expected, there are steps you can take to reduce its impact upon your immediate & future security. A redundancy, no matter how much notice is given, is both an emotional and financial shock. The stress of a suddenly uncertain future and lack of income puts huge pressure on even the strongest individuals.

It is understandable that many people facing redundancy panic and fall into mental health issues such as depression.

While it’s important to ensure employers are meeting all their obligations regarding your redundancy, you must also plan for the future.

You can ­ and should ­ start this process as soon as you receive news of your redundancy..


Don’t take it personally

It can not be stressed enough how important this is:

Redundancy is never a matter of personal issues nor is it a result of your own actions.

Redundancy happens for many reasons and is a result of calculated, impersonal accounting and management decisions. It should never be taken as a personal attack on you or as a rejection of your contribution to an organisation.

Keeping this in mind may not save your job, but it will make your next steps much easier and help you recover from the shock and loss of redundancy.


Understand your emotions

Redundancy can cause an emotional toll on somebody akin to the loss of life or the end of a relationship.

And while redundancy can feel like an incredibly lonely experience (even when it’s shared with a large number of your colleagues), we know from the experiences of others what you can expect to feel if it happens you.

Often these feelings will hit all at once or too quickly to fully register. But by acknowledging your feelings, no matter how difficult they may be, you can deal with them much more easily.

And in doing so, reduce the stress and damage a redundancy can cause in your life.


Shock and disbelief

Even if redundancy has been expected, nothing can prepare you for the moment it comes. In the hours, days and weeks following the announcement, a person can quickly fall into a state and/or disbelief. These are usually experienced as total numbness, becoming withdrawn from friends and family, and an inability to understand your situation.

Shock and disbelief are a natural coping mechanism and result in your brain (and sometimes your body) being unable to process too many emotions or stresses all at once. It takes time for these feelings to subside, but they do.

However, once the initial shock wears off, you will have to contend with a wide range of strong emotions, many of them unfamiliar to you and all hitting you at once.


Anger, bitterness, and jealousy

Redundancy will always feel like a personal attack, judgment, or rejection from your employer and senior managers. It will feel unfair and unreasonable that your job could be dismissed so easily while colleagues and superiors stay on and the organisation continues to operate without you. It may leave you in a position of financial insecurity and fear. If you have a family to support and bills/debt to pay, this can add to the emotional stress.

These feelings can quickly turn to anger. Anger at your employers for terminating your job just to cut costs; anger at your managers for keeping their positions; anger and jealousy of your colleagues that we’re fortunate to keep their jobs. This is a natural reaction to a stressful event but it will not help you going forward.

When you become consumed by negative emotions, it is harder to find a practical solution to the problems your redundancy may cause. Allow yourself to feel whatever emotions surface but try not to let the negative ones take hold.

You could simply ask yourself: Will this anger or bitterness help me find a new opportunity? Will it help me support myself and/or my family? Will it help me pay my bills?

The most important thing you can do is not project this anger on those around you. In doing so, you could risk alienating your friends and family at a time when you need them the most.


Shame and Embarrassment

Strong outwardly negative emotions like anger are usually accompanied by equally destructive internal emotions. In fact, anger is often a mask for deeper feelings of hurt, shame & embarrassment ­ all of which can be caused by redundancy.

Being singled out for dismissal by your employer affects your sense of worth, confidence, and self­esteem. It will make you question your skills, experience, expertise, and value as a member of staff.

It can knock your confidence as a parent and partner as it will affect your ability to support your loved ones going forward. Much of the stigma attached to redundancy comes from the idea that you have failed in your traditional role as breadwinner.

Again, it is crucial to remember that redundancy is not reflective of your value as an employee or a person. While it will mean a lot of certainties in your future and additional stress in your home life, you should never feel ashamed for being in this position.

Redundancy can happen anybody at any time. If it happens you, it’s nothing to be embarrassed or ashamed of.


Fear

Fear of a suddenly uncertain future can be one of the most stressful aspects of redundancy. Aside from the loss of consistent long-term income, for most people, it will be a completely new experience with lots of questions. How will you support yourself and your family? How will you find another job? What are you going to do next? How are you going to tell your family that you’ve lost your job?

These questions are understandable and difficult ­ but they can all be answered. Instead of succumbing to panic as a result of fear, it is better to tackle these questions head-on and find an answer to each one individually.

Doing so will help clear your mind and focus on taking action instead of slipping into a depression.


Relief and guilt

It may not feel like it, but sometimes redundancy can be the best thing to happen to you. Many of us are incredibly unhappy in our jobs, wish for a way to escape, and want to do something more meaningful or enjoyable. Many more of us are miserable in our jobs but don’t even realise. This can create an underlying feeling of despair that cannot be identified.

There is no event more disruptive to our work lives than redundancy. But for people who are deeply unhappy in their work, this disruption can prove to be a blessing in disguise ­ especially if it comes with a substantial pay package and notice period. It gives you the time, financial security and freedom to finally leave your job and do something that makes you happier.

However, this may not be so obvious in the beginning. A feeling of relief after receiving redundancy notice may to the most unexpected and difficult emotion to accept. It doesn’t feel right, being happy that you and your colleagues have all just lost their jobs. It could leave you feeling guilty, especially if you have friends that needed the job more than you.

If you feel yourself experiencing this mix of emotions, do not worry about it. It is okay to be relieved and happy at times when it seems you should be angry and sad. It just means you have realised something you didn’t even know you wanted.


Make a plan

The best way to handle a shock event like redundancy ­ and reduce its emotional toll on you ­ is to make a simple, practical plan for your immediate future.

This starts with deciding what you want to do next: change your career, take a career break, learn a new skill, find a new job ASAP.

Next, create a timeline for when you want to achieve this and list all the steps involved in getting there.

Depending on your redundancy package, this process can be done while you continue to work or you can wait until you’ve been dismissed. However, it is crucial you start making a solid plan from right after your redundancy is announced.

A good plan will give you purpose and having a purpose is the best way to avoid falling into a trap of anxiety and depression.


Manage your finances

The biggest practical issue in redundancy is the financial impact. Even with a pay package, you face the loss of consistent income. With bills, groceries, loans, schooling, and many other financial obligations to meet, it can seem impossible to keep going without a steady salary.

One of the most important steps to take after receiving a redundancy notice (maybe the most important) is to sit down and create a financial plan & budget outlining all your short and long-term expenses. After this, you can calculate how long your remaining salary, savings & redundancy pay will last before you are in trouble.

Managing your finances after redundancy can be stressful but there are some steps you can take to make life easier. Your first step should be to check if you will be entitled to redundancy pay. If you’ve worked for your employer for at least two years you’ll be entitled to either statutory or contractual redundancy pay. How much money you receive will depend on the length of your employment.

If you’re made redundant because your employer has gone into liquidation, contact the Redundancy Payments Office (a Government-run service).

The Money Advice Service, a body supported by the government to offer free and impartial financial advice, recommends using their redundancy pay calculator and planner. The calculator provides a summary of your legal rights and straightforward advice on how to manage money.

Once that’s out of the way, you’ll need to work out your budget. If you do need to cut back spending. By doing this you’ll be able to see which areas you can make the most savings in ­by cutting down on unnecessary purchases, club memberships & subscription services. The more consciously you spend money, the less money you spend and the longer it lasts.

The main benefit you can claim while out of work is Jobseeker’s Allowance, or Universal Credit if you live in an area where it’s already been rolled out. But there may be other benefits available to you, depending on your personal situation, such as tax credits or help with housing costs.

If you’re in debt, you need to prioritise your debts so your rent or mortgage payment, council tax and utility bills are paid with what money you have. If you have other debts, like credit card debt, contact your card provider to explain the situation and see if your payments can be reduced. For further help with this, contact Citizens Advice.

In addition, ask your lender whether your mortgage, loan or credit card is covered by insurance, as if you lose your job or are too ill to work, you might be able to make a claim.

Free personal finance apps like Toshl Finance and Money Dashboard are great for tracking your daily/weekly/monthly expenses, learning how best to reduce them, and planning ahead.


Use benefits and financial help

Did you know the JobCentre has a dedicated Rapid Response service specifically to get people facing redundancy straight back into the workplace? You can sign up for this service the same day your redundancy is announced.

It is just one of the many services, benefits, and other forms of assistance created to help people facing redundancy. These can range from housing assistance to job skills training and most of them are completely free.

While many people may feel a sense of shame signing up to govt. benefits, it’s important to remember this is exactly the reason they were created: for people who have worked hard and to the best of their ability but still face dismissal for reasons out of their control.

The benefits and assistance available should not be seen as a long-term solution or a sign of giving up, but a helping hand to get you back on your feet ASAP.


Assess your career options

Dismissal from your job may mean looking for a new role in an unfamiliar environment/industry. Many people facing redundancy will have had the same role for 10 or 20+ years and struggle to think of doing anything else. Likewise, the idea of writing a CV and doing job interviews once again can be incredibly scary.

If you find yourself in this position, reach out and ask people more familiar with the current job market for help. This could involve advice on changing careers or help with writing a new CV. There are plenty of dedicated professional services available for this but sometimes, you need only ask your friends and family.


Look after your health

A stressful event can create a massive strain on your physical and mental health. This is no different in a redundancy. As we’ve already outlined, a redundancy affects every aspect of your life and does so negatively.

While you will want to focus on recovering from this and moving forward with your life and career, it is impossible to do so if you fall victim to depression, anxiety, and despair.

There are a number of steps you can take to reduce the likelihood of this happening.


Exercise and routine

Whether your redundancy is an immediate dismissal or comes with a notice period, keeping a regular routine and healthy lifestyle is key to recovering and moving forward.

Take regular exercise, especially if your redundancy means you have more free time. Exercise not only keeps you in great shape but has positive effects on your emotions and makes you happier.

A healthy diet will improve your all-round physical health and ensure you are getting all the nutrients and vitamins needed to keep up your enthusiasm for your future. It can be easy to think it’s better living off processed, ready-made meals until you get back on your feet but the opposite is true. This kind of diet will make you sluggish and tired.

Keep Routine and plan your whole week out. Decide what times you will focus on finding a new job and how many hours a week this will involve. Build the rest of your schedule around this a stick to it. A steady routine will help you reach your goals much more easily and reduce your stress and uneasiness.

Socialise Regularly and enjoy yourself! Whether it is with friends or family, make sure you continue to maintain happy, active relationships with the people around you. Make sure this is in an emotionally healthy, supportive and rewarding environment ­ this doesn’t mean spending every night in the pub complaining about your bad luck.


Reach out

The worst thing you can possibly do after receiving redundancy is to keep it to yourself. Whether you’re ashamed, embarrassed or worried about breaking the news to loved ones ­ it will be far worse not telling them.

You are not to blame for receiving redundancy and people that care about you should be sympathetic to this. They will want to support you and help find a solution. Some may even be able to help find you a new job.


None of this can happen if you keep it to yourself

Staying quiet and not communicating your worries and concerns will only leave you more stressed and worried and create a negative spiral into depression. If you don’t feel comfortable speaking to your family and friends, reach out to a professional counseling service to help you work through the emotional toll of a redundancy.


Stay positive

Remember redundancy is not personal. It is not a reflection on your skills or value to a business. It is simply a case of financial issues out of your control.

Keep this in mind as you move forward. A positive outlook is not the only key to finding new work but also discovering opportunities in times of hardship. Negative emotions can close our minds off to the reality of a situation and lead us further into depression and hardship.

By keeping a positive, open mind you will find it easier to solve any issues caused by redundancy. It will give you a clear mind to work on solutions instead of focusing on problems.

Finally, people are much more likely to support and help somebody who is positive in the face of adversity than somebody who becomes angry and bitter.


See redundancy as an opportunity

With the immense pressure of finances, it can be tempting to dive headfirst into getting back on track and finding a new job – however, it’s not always the best route to take. When facing a big upheaval like redundancy, you might find that you focus on the practical steps you need to take. But these events can be stressful, and it’s important to find the space and time to look after your wellbeing too.

There is no denying the impact a redundancy will have on your life and career. Every day we read of how it has left people in a crisis or even ruined their lives.

However, with a different perspective, redundancy can also be seen as an incredible opportunity.

For some, it can give you the freedom to really think hard and decide what you want from your life and career. This can mean immediate, short term changes or a long-lasting overhaul of your entire life.


A career change

Just because you’ve been in one job or industry for 1, 10, or 30 years doesn’t mean it’s still right for you. Many of us become indifferent to and disillusioned by, a role after working in it a long time, but don’t feel it’s possible to change.

The disruption of a redundancy fixes this, helping you decide if the job you just lost is even right for you anymore or if you even want to go back to something similar.

Once the initial shock of redundancy wears off, think about exploring other opportunities. Maybe your skills and personality can fit in elsewhere.


Study

If you decide you want a complete change in your career, you may need to learn some new skills or feel like going back to full-time education for a couple of years.

The time immediately after a redundancy (along with a potential pay package) may be the only chance you have to fulfil this before you are once again committed to full-time employment.

Take some time to see what learning opportunities are available and if any of them interest you. You may be surprised by what you find.


Travel

Maybe you don’t want to go straight back into the workplace after your dismissal and now have a degree of financial freedom. Perhaps you’ve always dreamt of taking a big trip to somewhere exotic but could never find the time to do so or it risked affecting your career.

Redundancy can give you that time and very few future employers will hold it against if you took the opportunity to put your career on hold for a few months. They may even be secretly jealous.


Conclusion

At the end of the day, no two redundancies are the same. And no two people will be affected in the same way ­ even by the same redundancy package.

How it impacts your own life and how you recover from the emotional and financial shock will depend on your individual circumstances. There is no formula for redundancy that can fix it for everybody.

The most important thing to remember is that ­ no matter your circumstances ­redundancy is not the end of the world. Or even your career. While it will create a lot of confusion and uncertainty in your life, by following the steps outlined here, you can hopefully reduce the stress involved and recover much faster.

You may even end up in a better place than you started.


Where to find support

Mental Health and Money Advice is a new service by Mental Health UK that combines support for mental health issues through a dedicated website providing a range of information and financial tools.

For help with money issues, contact the Money Advice Service, StepChange and Citizens Advice.

Find out more about cutting the cost of your loans on the MoneySavingExpert website. Best balance transfers on credit cards can also be found on the MoneySavingExpert website.

If you’re finding it difficult to see a way forward or are feeling suicidal, talk to Samaritans for free on 116 123.

Developing the right perspective

What does “the right perspective” mean?

The majority of us could probably think of several times when we got upset or worried about something that, with hindsight, wasn’t really that bad. It might even seem completely trivial now. Having the right perspective means that we can see what’s important to us in life and stop less important things from bothering us so much.

But that’s still kind of vague – how can we go about changing how we see the world and things that happen in our lives? Is it even possible to do so?


Can I change my perspective?

Yes – there are small things that you can do that can really improve how much your outlook on things.

However, if you are struggling with your mental health more and it is affecting your life negatively, you should consider talking to a doctor or therapist about it. Although the advice given in this resource may be useful in improving wellbeing for some people, they are not a replacement for thorough support for a mental health problem.


Be realistic, is it really going to happen?

We can often get carried away in our thoughts and it’s important to take a step back and look at the reality of a situation.

Try to stop thinking in catastrophic terms. Instead of thinking, ‘This is terrible’, think ‘this is not ideal, but it will pass and I will be okay’.

If you’re worried about the future, think about your past experience. Many things that we spend time worrying about never actually happen. Ask yourself ‘How many of the things I have previously feared would happen in my life did actually happen?’ It may help you to realise that your current worry is not actually that realistic.

So many of our worries and troubles are simply not going to happen and actively questioning the likelihood of something negative happening can help you to think more positively. Over time, you might find that you’re worried about small things less and less because you know that so many of your worries are unrealistic.


Talk about your worry

Talking about our thoughts can sometimes have a huge positive impact on us. Just venting for a few minutes can make a big difference and after a short while, you may start to wonder what you were so worried or upset about in the first place.

Again, the more we talk about our worries, the more we realise that many of them are trivial.


Think of the bigger picture

Think about what actually matters you to. Perhaps even write it down to set it in your mind. Now think about how insignificant this one worry is in comparison. Maybe try thinking ‘How will I feel about this in a week, in a month, or in a year?’ Chances are, you won’t expect to still be negatively affected after a brief amount of time. Or, think ‘Is this one thing going to interfere with what is important to me?’


know that you will cope

Unfortunately, there will always be things that life throws our way that is simply unpleasant (to say the least) to experience – things like bereavement, divorce, chronic illness, job loss, debt.

It’s true that bad things will happen to you at some point in life, but you will be able to deal with them and continue. Knowing you can cope with whatever life throws your way should mean that you start to worry less about the smaller things.


Getaway for a while

If you’re able to, getting away for a short while for a holiday can help you to find perspective in your life. Doing similar things day-in-day-out can take its toll and sometimes we simply just need a change of scenery and a break to recuperate in order to realise that we needn’t stress about smaller things.


Take action

If you’re stressing about something small that you can take action on – take action. Tackling the source of our worries head-on is the best way to deal with them. Accept the things you cannot change, and take action on the ones that you can.

Coronavirus exposes inequality in UK finances – Where you can get support

Research has found that lower-income households are more likely to have had to borrow money or use savings during the coronavirus crisis, putting them at risk of financial anxiety, poor mental health, and debt.

Although the crisis has affected the finances of people from a wide range of backgrounds, those who are are already struggling financially, or have lower incomes, could be the hardest hit.

The research from the Resolution Foundation, a think tank, found that one-third of the lowest-paid fifth of employees have been furloughed, or lost jobs or hours. This is compared to 8 percent of the top fifth of employee earners pre-coronavirus.

The research also found that lower-income households are twice as likely as richer ones to have increased their debts during the crisis.

“Pre-coronavirus Britain was marked by soaring wealth and damaging wealth gaps between households.

These wealth divides have been exposed by the crisis. While higher-income households have built up their savings, many lower-income households have run theirs down and had to turn to high-interest credit.”

– George Bangham, economist at the Resolution Foundation.

The think tank has also found that young people are most likely to have lost work or seen their income drop because of Covid-19. In fact, more than one in three 18 to 24-year-olds is earning less than before the outbreak.

It said younger workers risk their pay being affected for years, while older staff may end up retiring involuntarily.

Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) has also warned that a ‘personal debt time bomb’ could be imminent. A survey for CAS shows 27% of respondents were worried about making repayments during the pandemic. Many payment holidays are still in place, but will begin to be lifted towards the end of the year. This could leave many struggling to make payments and potentially in debt.

While government schemes have provided help to large amounts of the population, many people remained without support. If you’re facing money worries, it’s better to act sooner rather than later. No matter what financial problem you’re facing, it is solvable.

Those affected by money worries can find that it impacts their mental health negatively. If you are experiencing financial worries, the following organisations can help:

Money Worries – What To Do

The current situation with coronavirus is clearly unprecedented and is causing worry for many individuals and businesses. The main source of anxiety for many will be their finances.

What to do:

  • Try not to panic. No problem is unsolvable and there are plenty of organisations and people who can offer you support.
  • If you have debts and are worried, reach out to the company you have debt with: mortgage providers, credit card companies, banks, utility companies, etc. Most already likely have a contingency plan in place to support you – allowing you either payment and interest breaks or deferred payments.
  • Stay up to date with the news. The government have announced lots of measures that are there to support employees, the self-employed, and wider society. Certain groups that are not currently supported by government measures (like those who started new jobs in March 2020) are also petitioning to get further help, so it’s worth staying up to date and keeping your eyes peeled for new announcements.
  • Create a budget. Set aside some time to come up with a new, realistic budget of incomes and outgoings. It’s better to spend some time in organising it and to get it right than to rush it. Choose a regular time each week to look at your money and expenditure to check that you’re on track.
  • Look for ways to cut costs, for example use comparison sites to find better deals on your bills. Many people can save hundreds of pounds by doing this.
  • Do not try to ignore the situation. Dealing with the problem early on is the best approach and can help you to reduce your worry. Just remember that the situation will pass and you can regain control again over your finances.

Where to get further help from:

Things that we can all do to look after our own mental health at this time include:
  • Avoiding overexposure to the news – Stay informed but limit time checking the news if it feels overwhelming.
  • Talking to others – Talk to others about concerns and feelings. Those that are self-isolating should speak with others regularly through video calls.
  • Looking after ourselves – Try to maintain a healthy and balanced diet, incorporate some exercise across the day, and get enough sleep. Also try to make time to do activities that are positive and calming.
  • Read this detailed advice from Mind – Coronavirus and your wellbeing

Don’t Bury Your Head – Financial Audits

COVID-19 has had a massive impact on people’s finances and we still have a long way to go before we see the longer-term damage. For some, the lockdown has led to a huge drop in income with little prospect of more money coming in any time soon.

While some have continued to be paid there are still concerns about the long term impact not only on the future of work but also on the economy on how we will repay the billions spent by the chancellor, Rishi Sunak.

But regardless of where you sit its impossible not to worry and that is why planning is the best course of action.

Britain is facing a “severe recession, the likes of which we haven’t seen” and lasting economic damage from the coronavirus pandemic. Chancellor, Rishi Sunak

So how can you best prefer yourself for a future of financial uncertainty?

Don’t bury your head and ignore the numbers!

Quite often it is only when a change of circumstances happens that we look at our financial position and although it can sometimes be painful it can also find payments you are making that you didn’t even realize that can save you money. Although many companies are offering reduced interest rates it may seem the easy option to sort yourself out. It’s worth remembering we are all in unknown territory and no one should be complacent. Having a budget and making a note of what you have coming in and what you are spending is really helpful. Make a list of all your primary bills (which are typically your mortgage, rent, council tax, utilities) and your nice to have bills such as Netflix, gym memberships, and amazon services. If doing a money audit feels like a chore, remember you can also think about how much money you have been saving such as not going out to restaurants, shopping for new clothes, weekends away, and reducing your shopping bills by only going once instead of daily.

Ask for help

The hardest part of being in financial difficulty is admitting it. Yet, most financial institutions and service providers have always looked at ways to help you rather than abandon you. It’s not within their best interest to not help you because if it reaches a crisis point no one wins except the debt collector or debt management company who both milk fees off both parties.

Mortgage payment holidays are currently available up until October 2020 and many loans and credit card companies will give you a payment freeze in exceptional circumstances, with the current pandemic being exceptional. The same applies to a rent holiday, although your landlord is under no obligation to offer you any form of rental freeze there is no harm in having the conversation although landlords have been told to pause evictions.

However, if after doing your financial audit you realise you are still in a position to repay bills then it’s within your interest to continue to do so.

These organisations provide financial information and support (some free/some may charge for some services):

Look to the future and plan

Even if you believe you are ok now look at where you could be in the next 3, 6, and 12 months. Although the current position may seem as though there has been no impact we could still experience a second wave of infections that may cause more disruption to our livelihoods and the economy so it’s sensible to plan ahead.

If you are lucky enough to have savings then you can relax but if you have no savings but do have spare income now is the time to start letting it build up as a reserve fund. If normal life resumes with no crisis then you have a buffer that allows you.

Reference

 

 

Lock down causes young people to turn to buy now, pay later schemes

Research carried out by comparethemarket.com has suggested young people are turning to “buy now, pay later” schemes while i lockdown, raising fears that internet retailers are encouraging customers into debts they cannot afford.

According to the data, young people in the 18 to 24-year-old bracket have used a buy now pay later with one in 6 schemes being accessed since the government ordered all non-essential high street stores to close, this is compared with one in 14 outside of that age group.

The data is concerning as young people’s finances are set to be the hardest hit with a third of employees in this age bracket already losing their job or on furlough.

Buy now pay later schemes are popular because they are quick and easy to access to make a purchase with the ability to pay back under interest-free, bi-weekly installments or by clearing the entire amount within 30 days. Alternatively, they can choose a financing plan with an interest rate similar to a credit card. The downside is if payments are missed and late fees applies with unpaid debts being passed to collection agencies. According to data, nearly 50% of those who used one of these schemes in the past year have missed at least one payment.

John Crossley, of comparethemarket.com which commissioned the research, said: “Our research suggests that young people, in particular, maybe turning to alternative credit schemes at a time of growing economic uncertainty. There remain serious concerns, however, over some people’s ability to keep track of their debt and prevent bills from racking up. If you are struggling financially there are dedicated services to provide help.”